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Sleep on itDr. David Dinges, University of Pennsylvania, research suggests that cognitive ability depends on how much sleep one accumulates over a 24-hour period, not just overnight. Short periods of work followed by sleep reinforcement allow people to enhance their cognitive efficacy, he argues. Rather than fighting to stay awake at your desk with diminishing cognitive returns, he says, “work on it in your sleep.”  Your brain continues to be productive while you’re unconscious.

I had gotten in early in the morning. I had worked the last two days from 3 am to 9 pm. I was burned out but still had things I needed to do.

I can’t quite recall why, but for some reason I needed to climb under my desk to fix or adjust some equipment. I laid there a moment on my back, my feet sticking out but my head and torso hidden beneath my desk and the equipment.

I was living in a cubicle at the time. The company had given me a private office when they hired me, but over the years all offices disappeared and we all now lived in open cubicles. There was not a lot of privacy. The company had scattered walled “huddle rooms” around the now open cubicle floors, for when we needed to have a conference or a private talk with an employee.

Feet sticking out from under equipment was not too unusual in this engineering facility. I’ve had to climb under my desk many times in the past. This time, when finished, I just laid there. I wanted to close my eyes, but figured that would be a bit strange … or would it …?

I’ve never been “caught” taking a power nap under my desk. Or, maybe I have and folks just let it slide. Yet I found the power nap a great tool to get me going again when I felt I was at my limit or I just needed to be mentally sharper.

There are companies that set aside conference rooms at certain times where they include cots so people can go crash if they want to. For me, a quick nap — under my desk — was all I ever needed.

Years later I would discover that changing my diet from animal based to plant based also had a huge impact on my energy levels throughout the day. While I still rely on the power nap to keep me in top form, I found that eating differently gave me a steady source of energy that stuck with me the whole day.

What do you do to keep your energy at a peak during the work day?

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